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Preview – Freedom Ordnance FM-9

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Photos by Kenda Lenseigne

Say What? Freedom Ordnance Defies All Logic With the FM-9.

There are certain words that shouldn’t ever go together in a sentence. Words like habanero and Astroglide, or Clinton and bathing suit. Until Freedom Ordnance released their FM-9, you might have thought that belt-fed 9mm was one of those combinations, but in this case, the juxtaposition actually works better than expected.

Now, there are those who might believe this to be a superfluous toy, unworthy of consideration. But hold on there, Timmy, ‘cause not every gun has to be over-the-beach capable — no one is pretending that this is going to be the next infantry light support weapon. Some guns exist purely for range fun and this one is more than ready to fulfill that role and leaves anyone that shoots it grinning like a Cheshire cat.

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When we first heard about it, we were prepared to be underwhelmed. Firearm novelty items tend to suffer from a lack of development — after all, why spend R&D dollars when your customers have low expectations in the first place? Instead, we were pleasantly surprised by both the quality of machining and thought that went into its design. Our first impressions were of a gun that was through a rigorous process of refinement — definitely not something that was haphazardly slapped together in a garage machine shop. Individual parts were nicely machined and finished, rather than looking like they were gnawed out of scrap by an angry beaver. Clearances were tight, and components moved slickly past each other with a minimum of friction. Having had some prior experience running CNC machines, we’re always on the lookout for evidence of sloppy tool paths or poor calibration. Neither were evident and about the only worthwhile improvement we could find would be to radius some of the sharp edges on the top cover’s perimeter.

While a pistol-caliber belt-fed may seem counterintuitive, there’s actually a historical precedent for it. The very first working example of Hiram Maxim’s machine gun was a one-third scale model in 7.62×25, which also by definition made it the world’s first SMG. While the FM-9 is not as fin de ciecle drop-dead gorgeous as Maxim’s prototype, it makes up for it by being chambered in a more practical cartridge and has the benefit of utilizing disintegrating links, rather than a cloth belt. Because of its diminutive dimensions, the guys at Freedom Ordnance had to design their own links for the 9mm Parabellum round, adding significantly to the effort needed to bring the upper into existence. Performing the same role as a magazine, i.e., getting a live round into position at the right time to be chambered, links face a short, violent existence. Instead of more or less constant spring pressure forcing rounds against a mag’s feed lips, links have to endure being yanked sideways at some pretty severe g-forces, then stopping dead in the space of less than a millimeter. Strain exerted by the gun’s feeding mechanism varies according to the length of belt that must be lifted — fire an M240 from a vehicle mount with a loose belt trailing on the floor, and if you listen carefully, you can hear the rate of fire change as the belt shortens.


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